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Christian McBride and Inside Straight

Kind of Brown

(Mack Avenue; US: 16 Jun 2009; UK: 27 Jul 2009)

Review [20.Aug.2009]

Bassist Christian McBride and his quintet Inside Straight have a traditional allusion in both their group name and album title. While that fact may reflect on the music’s accessibility and place in straightforward jazz lineages, it doesn’t mean there’s anything stale and stodgy on Kind of Brown. The disc contains the swinging side of McBride’s work, incorporating some hard bop influences (aided by Carl Allen’s drumming). The songs bounce along, and while McBride’s playing never disappoints, he leaves room for his bandmates, and it’s a tight outfit. The music may be straight-ahead, but it’s not starchy; cuts like “Used ‘Ta Could” emphasize the light-hearted pleasure available. One of the better surprises here is the unveiling of Warren Wolf, Jr. on vibes. McBride’s former student holds his own here, showing not only flash but also a strong ability to integrate his playing with the vets surrounding him. While Kind of Brown resists stylistic novelty, it does provide a highly entertaining way to revisit that old Blue Note sound while taking in something fresh.

Rating:

Justin Cober-Lake lives in Charlottesville, Virginia, with his wife, kids, and dog. His writing has appeared in a number of places, including Stylus, Paste, Chord, and Trouser Press. His work made its first appearance on CD with the release of Todd Goodman's first symphony, Fields of Crimson. He's recently co-founded the literary fly-fishing journal Rise Forms.


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McBride reveals that he is concerned with being accessible, but this album is far from condescending.
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